ADB, World Bank to help improve Pacific infrastructure

August 20th, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, Aug 20 (Xinhua) The Asian Development Bank (ADB) Wednesday said it will cooperate with Australia, New Zealand and the World Bank to improve infrastructure in the Pacific Island countries. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, ADB chief Haruhiko Kuroda and World Bank chief Robert B. Zoellick endorsed a joint initiative of Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility Wednesday, the Manila-based lender said in a statement.

“The initiative will greatly assist Pacific Island countries to overcome the significant challenges they face in linking people to vital services and make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the statement said.

The eight MDGs, set by the UN, aim at eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and controlling pandemic like AIDS, among others, by 2015.

The initiative will coordinate donor assistance to develop and maintain critical economic infrastructure in the Pacific Island countries, providing up to $200 million funding over four years.

“Improvements to the quality, reliability and availability of infrastructure in both rural and urban areas are crucial for boosting economic growth, creating jobs and providing access to basic services such as health and education,” said the statement.

The facility will help develop competitive local private sectors to deliver infrastructure maintenance and construction services, which will contribute to both job creation and sustainable economic growth in the Pacific.

Transport infrastructure is expected to be an early priority for assistance. The facility will assist Pacific Island countries to improve roads, ports and transport systems, support reliable energy and communications infrastructure, and improve water, sanitation and waste management systems.

An inaugural workshop will be held in October to bring senior officials from the Pacific Island Countries together to begin exploring ways in which countries may access the facility, according to the statement.

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